At a rally today in Dayton that was disrupted by a protester who jumped the stage, Donald Trump called Democratic Bernie Sanders “our Communist friend,” less than a day after mobs shut down a Trump rally in Chicago. Raucous protesters infiltrated an arena on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, causing clashes with Trump supporters. Four police officers were injured, none seriously, while sought to keep the contending sides apart. Witnesses said they saw anti-Trump protesters hurling bottles and bricks, while some shouted “F—k Trump!” and chanted slogans in Spanish. Mexican and Puerto Rican flags were evident among protesters wearing Bernie Sanders t-shirts.
 
Fellow Republicans who are running against Trump in the coming primary races hurled scorn at him. Sen. Marco Rubio said that Trump’s rhetoric had served to inflame passions on the campaign trail, for instance. U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday blamed supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for protests that shut down his Chicago rally, calling the U.S. senator from Vermont “our communist friend.”
Rubio denounced what he called the “third world” demonstrations in Chicago, but reserved his harshest invective for Trump. Speaking in his native Florida, Rubio said “This is a frightening, grotesque, and disturbing development in American politics.” Sen. Ted Cruz, who is also running, said that the incident was “sad” and urged the protesters to let the rally take place.
 
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is also running for president, said in Cinnnati today that Trump has created a “toxic environment” with his rhetoric. “And that toxic environment has allowed his supporters, and those who seek confrontation, to come together in violence,” he said. “There is no place for a national leader to pray on the fears of the people who live in our great country.”
 
Media have reported on several recent incidents at Trump rallies, where anti-Trump protesters have been ejected for disruptive behavior. In a recent case, a protester was sucker-punched by a Trump supporter at a rally. At the Dayton event, Trump said that the disruption in Chicago was pre-planned. “All of a sudden a planned attack just came out of nowhere. “ He referred to the leaders of the protest as “professional people.” Indeed, one of the most prominent radicals in the country, Bill Ayers – who was once indicted on terrorism charges – was seen being interviewed by a news crew outside the Chicago arena.
 
Trump said that his fans “were taunted, they were harassed by these other people, these other people by the way, some represented Bernie, our communist friend.” He continued, “Now really Bernie should tell his people…he should really get up and say to his people ‘stop, stop,'” he said.
 
In a post on Twitter today, Trump wrote “The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!” 
 
Trump also visited Cleveland today after flying into the airport event in Dayton. An event in Cincinnati is planned for March 13. On March 15, primary voters go to the polls in Ohio and several other states in what could be a decisive day for Republicans this year.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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